That’s it. The 2021 NFL season is officially in the books and the Philadelphia Eagles are heading back to the postseason. They’ll draw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, January 16 at 1 p.m. in the wild-card round in a rematch from Week 6.
The Eagles (9-8) are the No. 7 seed; the Buccaneers (13-4) are the No. 2 seed. Tom Brady guided the Buccaneers to a 28-22 victory in the first meeting back on October 14. Two entirely different teams at that time. Tampa Bay has more injuries than a voodoo doll. Antonio Brown was kicked off the island, while Chris Godwin, Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette, Mike Evans have all been battling ailments on the offensive side. Ditto for their defense: Richard Sherman, Jason Pierre-Paul, Shaq Barrett.
The optimist will say the Buccaneers’ injury situation bodes well for the Eagles. Maybe it does. Then again, Brady doesn’t tend to lose games early in the postseason. Super Bowl? That’s a different fairy tale. Either way, Philadelphia will be heading down to Florida where the league’s top rushing attack (Eagles: 2,715 yards gained) battles the third-best run defense (Buccaneers 1,463 yards allowed).
Head coach Nick Sirianni reflected on the first meeting during his media availability on December 22. Remember, that was a Thursday night game so it was a four-day rest week for both teams.
“We didn’t play good enough in Tampa. Didn’t coach good enough against Tampa, so those were some of the contributors to us not winning that football game,” Sirianni said. “We made tweaks after the Tampa game, maybe this period should be a little bit longer, maybe this third down should go this day and this and that. So, we made those adjustments like we would with everything else that we thought would be better.”
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Eagles Fans Ready to Make Brady ‘Cringe, Bro’
Everyone in Philadelphia remembers what they were doing the night Brandon Graham strip-sacked Brady in the Super Bowl. There are pictures of that epic moment framed all over the city. Chances are people also recall the seven-time champion saying how much he “cringes” the Eagles. He never fully got over that 41-33 loss.
“You assume I’m over it? Come on now,” Brady said in 2019, via WEEI 93.7 in Boston. “That’s a lot of mental scar tissue from that year. That was a tough game. In a lot of ways, we learned from that year and we came back stronger the next year.”
Despite all that “mental scar” on Brady, a majority of Eagles Nation was feeling pretty good about facing him in the playoffs. To be the best you have to beat the best, and the Buccaneers are the defending world champions. Bring on, Brady!
Brady Calls Eagles ‘Toughest’ Opponent
Tampa Bay only beat Philadelphia by six points when they squared off almost three months ago. The Eagles racked up 213 total yards and almost pulled off an improbable comeback. Almost is a bit misleading. The Buccaneers were up 28-7 with 5:47 left in the third quarter before taking their foot off the gas. Brady went 34-of-42 for 297 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in that one.
Following Tampa Bay’s 41-17 win over Carolina in Week 18, Brady addressed facing the Eagles in the postseason. The 44-year-old called them the toughest team he played all year. The Buccaneers got the two seed by virtue of the Rams losing 27-24 to the 49ers in overtime.
“It’s our toughest opponent all year. They’re very talented. It’s gonna be a very tough game,” Brady said, via The Associated Press’ Rob Maaddi. “I don’t care if the Rams would’ve won. We have to play the Eagles. That’s the biggest game of our season.”